HC Deb 17 June 1981 vol 6 cc1019-20
36. Mr. Lang

asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland what is his assessment of the efficacy to date of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980.

The Solicitor-General for Scotland (Mr. Nicholas Fairbairn

At this early stage, the evidence available of the efficacy to date of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980 is somewhat impressionistic, but it does give grounds for cautious optimism.

Mr. Lang

Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that experience to date disproves the alarmist and scaremon-gering attitude of the Labour Party during the passage of the Bill? Can he tell us what progress there has been over the use of the compensation order provisions?

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

Yes, I can. In the two months up to 31 May, 102 compensation orders have been made, and procurators fiscal are sending pamphlets in appropriate cases for people to make assessments. Although, as I say, we must be cautious, that is a very hopeful sign, indeed.

Mr. Maxton

In view of the statements made by the Solicitor-General and the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind), about the tape recording of interrogations under the Act, why is the experiment to be continued instead of extending the practice throughout Scotland, so that the suspected person can be properly safeguarded?

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

There are a number of issues about tape recording, including a judgment of the court, which I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will know of, in which it was held that, unless the whole tape recording was acceptable, no part of it was acceptable. There are difficulties. It is important that the matter be got right and that the intended safeguards should not frustrate justice but improve it.

Mr. Speaker

Mr. Peter Fraser.

Mr. Peter Fraser

The question that I was about to ask has been asked by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton).